Monday, January 08, 2007

Digitization RFPs from city & county governments

It must be "that time of year." Requests for proposals (RFPs) from city and county governments are now circulating to bid on digitization work that they have (old documents, taxation records, etc.). I'm sure those who see these RFPs have the same questions each year:
  • Have these organizations done any preliminary reviews of the companies that they are sending these RFPs to OR are they sending them out blind, not knowing if the companies who are receiving the RFPs actually do what they want? (I know the answer to this. Blind, unfortunately.)
  • If they are using a list someone provided to them, have they checked other sources to see if there is a good local contractor that they have missed?
  • Who keeps the list these organizations are using and how can we ensure that it is up-to-date? (Wouldn't it be great if the organizations told you in their letter how they found you?)
  • How many companies are they sending these RFPs to? If they have sent only three, and two of those companies actually don't do what they want, that leaves them with one source. (Or maybe that's exactly what they want!)
  • Why are the turn-around times so tight (three-weeks)? Okay, this seems like a normal "government" think on RFPs. Organizations that bid on a lot of government work must have someone who focuses just on these RFPs to ensure the deadlines are met.
If I could change the RFP process at all, it would be that organizations spent a little time investigating those companies that they are going to send the RFPs to. Knowing that they are sending the RFPs to companies that do what they want would (1) save paper and postage, and (2) give them better/more bids to compare.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Heather,

I think an even bigger problem than this is the posting of RFPs with specifications that are written in stone by the buyers. Vendors then have little or no opportunity to modify them until they have won the bid--and even then it is questionable whether they can fix the bid.

Moreover, I have studied a number of RFPs where I have found the specifications to be limited, deficient, or just in error. Sometimes the question phase will permit correction and modifications, but I have found even these to be painful exercises.


Bennett Lovett-Graff